Motivating remote and hybrid teams goes further than handing out extra compensation for a home-desk set up, arranging virtual team building activities, or distributing awards and giving public recognition. Motivation plays a big part in an employee and team's performance, hence why it's important to encourage team engagement so everyone is aligned and connected, regardless of the location they work in. The more engaged in the companies mission and connected to the team they are, the higher the likelihood they'll be motivated.
Finding the right strategy for motivating hybrid workers depends on many factors, the first and more important is understanding what motivates each member of your team. If you don't know what motivates them, then your efforts trying to motivate your virtual teams will fall flat. The second most important factor to consider when you're asking how to motivate a hybrid workforce, is how hybrid working affects an employees motivation?
In a hybrid work environment, for some employee, their motivation can turn off like a light switch without a good balance of face-to-face interaction.
In a recent interview with Shauna Moran, Owner of Operate Remote, she shared how challenging it was for their international team to figure out the best way of how to motivate employees in their team. With a team spread over 9 different time zones, they needed to find a way to leverage strategies that would help motivate their team no matter where they were based.
Both hybrid working environments and those that are fully remote tend to lend themselves to less face-to-face contact than their in-office counterparts. In the case of working from home, many employees are living and working in the same space. The problem with this is that finding motivation in a confined space, where work and home life meld together, isn't always easy.
Motivation is more challenging to muster up in these conditions, and requires different strategies. For example, dressing up, commuting, grabbing a coffee before entering the office and taking a five-minute break with your best bud at work plays a big part in motivation. Much of the above mentioned doesn't exist in a home working environment. It's these little "add-ons" that are often absent when remote and can negatively impact one's work-day, and consequently, reduce an employee's motivation.
Motivation can mean very different things to different people; therefore, to motivate a hybrid team, you first have to listen to them. This starts with creating space for them to share with you what blocks them from deeper engagement and, whether there is anything that is inhibiting their productivity. It's your job to listen, evaluate, and offer up strategies that can help them work better, and be happier doing it!
David McClelland, the writer of Theory of Needs, defines three main drivers for motivation: the need to achieve something, the need to affiliate and the need for power. While these are very valid drivers for general motivation in life, remote and hybrid working have a separate set of motivation drivers that have become more important than ever.
The"new way of working" brings to the table a new motivation driver: flexibility, which can mean many things. If we've learned just one thing from the 2020 pandemic, it's that we should place more value on work-life balance. That leads us into...
Why trial and error a bunch of new ways to motivate your team, when there's proven strategies others have tried and tested before you? Let the experts lead. Here are 3 top ways to motivate your hybrid team according to remote and hybrid working experts.
Communication is the key to a well functioning and in-sync remote or hybrid team, but it goes further than daily stand ups and regular team meetings. With a hybrid work environment, some employees might feel out of place or not adequately cared for by their team and/or managers. As a manager, it's vital to check in on your team regularly and bring them together every once in a while for a proper team get together.
Zeb Evans, Founder & CEO of Clickup bands his team together by strengthening the communication between them.
"Encouraging transparency across company communication channels is the best way to prevent team silos. I often tell employees who DM me to share their questions/findings in a public chat or task to keep important information accessible to everyone. Maintaining an open forum saves time, eliminates miscommunication, and allows teammates to learn from one another!"
— Zeb Evans, Founder & CEO Clickup
Sounds simple right? Sadly though, many companies view their employees strictly as workers. It's important to remember that they're people with lives outside of work and each one has their own unique set of quirks and ways of relating. While one might be the most productive in the morning, others might need more time to run errands right when they get up. Other members of the team could be night owls. It shouldn't matter when someone works, as long as at the end of the day, they are contributing value to the team while at the same time meeting the objectives set. By understanding better the nuances of your team, you can also understand more accurately what motivates them.
"By prioritizing your staff's happiness, comfort, support, and recognition, you create a working environment that enables your company to be more resilient."
– Amit Paley, The Trevor Project
Hybrid or remote workers aren't always (or never) present at the office, making it quite easy for them to feel like outsiders sometimes. It's essential to check in more consistently with your remote workers so that everyone feels like an equal part of the team, regardless of their location.
"Remote employees are more likely to feel disconnected in a hybrid work model, so it's going to take more effort from managers to help bridge this gap"
Zoom meetings and Slack are often substitutions for in-person interaction in a fully remote environment, but virtual communication will never be as good as in-person. Humans crave some degree of face-to-face contact with others, and seeing each other through the screen and explaining our emotions with emojis just doesn't cut it. It can help, though.
That brings us to a key question, how can teams better facilitate communication between hybrid team members when there's no visibility on who's going to be in the office and when? With a quick Slack integration called .... (stay tuned for the announcement!), both remote and in-office employees can let their team know from where they'll be working to more easily coordinate a meet up. Connect with colleagues in the office, or at a remote location like a co-working, or simply grab a coffee with members of the team you know are working remotely.
It's time to leave the human side of motivation aside and tackle those apps, equipment, and platforms that can help your team work better and, consequently, be more motivated. How are tools going to motivate your team? The tools themselves won't, but if you have good tools that make your life easier rather than harder, employees will be happier to show up to work. If you're asking, how do you motivate a remote team, here's a few things you can do to start.
A hybrid or remote work environment requires overall team sync that is not that hard to achieve if you provide your team with the right tools to connect. Start by offering these ones...
For members of the team who work from home, ensuring they have the proper desk setup will do wonders. Helping your hybrid or remote team set up a home desk will likely increase performance and motivate them to get to work, even if it's next to their kitchen counter. Many startups and companies have provided their hybrid and remote team with vouchers to create their perfect work-from-home space. If it's in your budget, why not give it a try!
We're not saying you should blow the roof off of the house, but getting your team a present every once in a while might be a good idea to foster motivation. Be it a meditation app, (virtual) yoga classes or starting a book club subscription.
We talked about it before but, communication is the pillar of remote and hybrid teams. For this reason, it's essential to incorporate tools like Slack, Miro, Asana or similar in your toolkit to keep your team in sync at all times. If you manage a remote team scattered in different time zones, using a system to centralize all communication will be key to success.
Giving equal recognition to your team whether they're working in-office or remote is incredibly important. Remote employees often go unseen while their in-office counterparts, are the ones who typically are given recognition. If you want to succeed at motivating your hybrid team you have to recognize all your employees, not just those you can see. Some companies have Slack channels to give recognition, while others use employee recognition programs and award bonus' and gifts to recognize their employee.
When employees feel motivated, their engagement with the company, its people and the mission grows, consequently lowering turnover and boosting performance. With employees more engaged, their health, well-being and company culture improve and such good vibes are reflected in customer satisfaction.